Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, June 5

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Ray MonohanFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Toronto Blue Jays vs. San Francisco GiantsSERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Toronto Blue JaysFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Blue Jays have been a disaster this season - no dispute there. Starter R.A. Dickey has been part of the problem but tonight I think he will give them a shot to beat the Giants...enough that the Jays powerful offense can come through against Giants starter Barry Zito. These same two pitchers squared off 3 weeks ago in Toronto and Zito gave up 8 runs in a 10-6 loss as the top of the Jays lineup combined for 8 hits in 12 at bats. Zito is wildly unpredictable and the righty lineup the Jays threw at him that day is likely to be repeated. Great value on Toronto because they have been struggling.

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Dave PriceFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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New York Yankees -163FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Yankees are in good hands with C.C. Sabathia on the bump. The Yankees are an incredible 92-40 in his last 132 starts, 48-17 in his last 65 home starts and 27-6 in his last 33 starts as a favorite of -151 to -200. The Indians are 20-43 in their last 63 road games, 0-7 in their last 7 road games versus a team with a winning record and 0-4 in their last 4 games versus a left-handed starter. The Indians are also 1-5 in Corey Kluber's last 6 starts and 16-39 in their last 55 meetings with the Yankees in New York. Take the Yanks.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, June 5

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N.Y. Mets +128 over WASHINGTONFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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1st 5 innings. Dillon Gee garnered some attention in his last start against the Yankees when he struck out a career-high 12. Gee put up fantastic skills in May, with some terrible luck (40/68% hit%/strand%, 15% hr/f) leading to a 5.46 ERA. Gee did have a rough April but his overall poor surface stats hide the fact that his skills have been rock solid for five straight starts. Gee struck out 30 and walked just six over his past 26 innings covering five May starts. His xERA over that span was 3.26 but his actual ERA that everyone can see is 5.13. Combine that with his 5.68 ERA and it has this resurgent pitcher, who nary had a bad start a season ago, very undervalued.
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Any hope that a new team and league would solve Dan Haren's woes seemed to be dashed after a disastrous April (6.29 ERA, 1.73 WHIP), but he's improved somewhat since then with four pure quality starts in his last six outings. So which is he: The aging veteran with declining velocity or the pitcher with elite command and solid skills?  To be sure, Haren's skills are a mixed bag: His xERA leapt up last year and has budged even higher this year and it’s mostly due to an ugly 33%/22%/45% groundball/line-drive/fly-ball profile. Haren's hr/f and jump in fly-ball percentage have spelled gopheritis with 12 HRs allowed already. Haren, 32, is clearly past his prime and last year's lower back problems raise questions about his durability, which was a strength for most of his career. Haren’s strikeout to walk ratio is an impressive 5-1 but as those innings add up, Haren is one to watch and fade because all those innings over the years has clearly taken a toll on his arm. At home Haren is 3-1 but a disturbing 4.82 ERA and 4.77 xERA tell the real story. If Haren isn’t striking out a lot of batters, he’s going to allow a lot of runs. Finally, current Nats have just 23 hits in 106 career AB’s against Gee for a BA .216 while current Mets have 18 hits in 61 career AB’s against Haren (.295). This one is based on the pitchers and therefore we’ll play it in the first five innings only.
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Chicago +133 over L.A. ANGELSFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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1st 5 innings. We made an error last night by not playing the Cubbies in the first five innings but will not make that same mistake here. A two-run shot by Albert Pujols in the eighth inning last night ruined our day but we’re happy to come right back on the Cubbies here against this overvalued pitcher and host. Jason Vargas has a misleading 3.34 ERA this season and an unsustainable 2.91 ERA over the past month but we’re here to tell you not to go all-in with Vargas. Vargas has never been a big K guy, but he’s striking out fewer than usual. Combine that with more walks issued and a 35% groundball rate over the past month and his skills have dropped to a dangerous level. The lack of dominance is seen in Vargas’s 17/17 pure quality starts/disaster-starts split over his past 34 games. Vargas’s ERA looks fine but xERA (4.57) points to the problems. A high strand% (81%) is helping. Since he’s pitching to contact, it will hurt when that normalizes. He’s also getting bludgeoned by left-handed hitters in the early going. Vargas does enough to garner workhorse status, as his IP totals the past three years will attest to, but his inability to miss bats limits his upside. Expect Vargas' ERA to rise over the rest of the year.
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Matt Garza has made three starts since coming off the rack and he’s getting stronger each time out. He already has 16 K’s in 16 innings to go along with a 44% groundball rate and a 3.26 xERA. Garza is now 29 and though there's not much more skills upside unless he continues to chop his control, he also has made a case that what we saw in 2011 and 2012 was the real thing and repeatable. There are no warning signs in Garza’s profile and he should continue to offer up profit potential as long as he remains healthy. Garza is simply a much better option taking back a tag than Vargas is spotting one. Overlay.
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Toronto +108 over SAN FRANCISCOFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Man, 20 million dollars doesn’t buy you what it used to. That’s what the Giants are paying Barry Zito this year alone and as long as Zito continues to put up these horrific skills, we’ll continue to fade him regardless of what the surface stats say. Zito is the ultimate pitch-to-contact hurler. Strikeouts are few and along with a fly-ball tilt, his fate rests squarely in the gloves of his backing defense. It’s safe to say that Barry Zito has posted some of the worst skills of any pitcher in the majors. His lack of disaster starts looks encouraging but there is a big difference between disaster avoidance and dominance. Zito’s 89% strand rate has kept him from completely blowing up but boy is this a ticking time bomb. The Jays saw Zito back in Toronto a couple of weeks ago and got to him for six runs in the first inning and eventually knocked him out in the sixth inning after Zito allowed eight runs and 12 hits. An afternoon game in San Fran will benefit the Blue Jays because that heavy night air at At&T Park is not present.
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R.A. Dickey is just your garden variety 37-year-old knuckleball pitcher. Um, not quite. A stunning strikeout spike driven by the Fastest Knuckler in the East, while he solidified elite control, allowed him to win the Cy Young with the Mets last year. Dickey’s post-season abdomen surgery was a concern coming into this year but there are now more concerns. Dickey has seen his K’s decrease and his walks approaching an unacceptable level. His 1.41 WHIP is already at an unacceptable level. The real culprit however, for his 5.18 ERA and just four wins in 12 starts is his inability to keep runners from scoring once they get on base. Dickey’s strand rate is just 67% and if that normalizes, his ERA will come down. Still, Dickey is allowing too many hits, too many jacks and his confidence is nowhere near the level it was at in New York. That said, Dickey is still a far better option than Zito so the Zito fade remains in play.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, June 5

SPORTS WAGERSFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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BOSTON -½ +152 over PittsburghFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Regulation only. The Penguins were a -170 in Game 1 and -190 in Game 2. They not only lost both those games but were outscored 9-1 and were completely dominated in Game 2. The Bruins are getting stronger while the Penguins’ flaws have been exposed; making them weaker and now the Bruins are just -111 here with a 2-0 series lead and heading home. Seriously?  Yeah, the Penguins figure to dig deep tonight and play better but the Bruins have been the better team because they have been the smarter team. When Pittsburgh has pressed the attack, Boston has repeatedly made the right decisions under fire. It isn’t only the plays the Bruins make, but the silly mistakes they don’t make. Everybody is moving the puck really well, crisp and sharp. The Penguins out-hit the Bruins, 37-19, yet in the official boxscore, Boston committed only two turnovers, compared to 12 for Pittsburgh.
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No matter what the Penguins are trying to do, it’s not working. They can’t play without the puck and they have not been able to sustain much pressure in Boston’s end when they do have it. After Game 1 in which they lost 32 of 48 face-offs, the Pens worked on improving in that area and it worked but it didn’t matter, as they still lost the majority of the face-offs. Boston has four lines that are working. Pittsburgh has two lines that look confused. The Pens make an attempt at getting physical and that doesn’t work either, as the Bruins are bigger and much more intimidating. Then there’s the goaltending issue again. Pittsburgh yanked Tomas Vokoun after the third goal in Game 2 and subsequently scored a late goal. 27 seconds later and before the end of the period, Marc Andre Fleury needed to come up with one save and could not. In 79 career play-off games Marc Andre Fleury has only one assist. That has to change. Kidding aside, what now? The Penguins have yet to name their starting goaltender for tonight but no matter who they go to, it’s the wrong choice. Fleury is garbage and Vokoun is not much better or not much worse depending on what side you’re on. Both goaltenders are probably praying they don’t get picked. The Bruins are solid in net and have been the entire series. The Bruins are slightly favored here but they are hugely underpriced. If Pittsburgh were close to a 2-0 favorite in both games in Pittsburgh, Boston should be a 3-1 favorite tonight. That’s a bit ludicrous of course but what’s more ludicrous is this small line on the Bruins in their own barn.

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Jeff Scott SportsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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3 UNIT PLAYSFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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LA ANGELS -149 over Chicago: I know Im taking a chance with the Halos here, but this is still a team with a world of talent and last night's late rally may be just what they needed to put them on another good winning streak. The Cubs are 10-17 on the road this year and they average just 3.07 rpg in those games. This is a bad team on the road, especially offensively and it doesn't figure to get any better tonight vs a hot Jason Vargas. Jason has been the Halos most consistent starter of late, going 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA in his last 3 starts, while at home he is 4-1 with a 2.53 ERA and the Halos are 5-1 in his home starts. Matt Garza has just 3 starts for the Cubs and he is 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA. On the road he has 2 starts and is 0-0, but with a 4.00 ERA and he doesn't have good numbers vs the Halos in his career, going 0-1 with a 5.87 ERA in 4 starts vs them. The Halos offense has struggled this year, but still they have much more offense at home (4.50 rpg) than the Cubs do on the road (3.07) and they have the better pitcher in this one, plus the momentum from last night's late win. Halo's should take two in a row here.
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DETROIT -135 over Tampa Bay: The Tigers have not played all that well for parts of this year but they are still 31-25 and have a 2 game lead in the AL Central. Last night they flexed their muscles with a 10-1 win over Tampa's hottest pitcher and I expect them to have good success vs Cobb tonight as well. Cobb has had a good year for Tampa and he is 2-2 on the road with a 3.91 ERA, but he is also 0-1 with a 4.09 ERA in 2 career starts vs the Cats. The Tigers are a solid 18-9 at home, where they score 5.96 rpg overall. They also hit .307 and score 6.4 rp/9 off of righties at home. Very good numbers and a reason why I see them getting to Cobb tonight. Doug fist has been solid for the Tigers this year and they are 22-5 in his last 27 home starts. This year he is 4-1 with a 3.18 ERA in 5 home starts and the Tigers have averaged 7 rpg for him at home. Tampa's offense does average 4.8 rpg on the road, but just 3.5 in Cobb's road starts and I just don't see them putting up more than a couple vs Fister tonight. The final nail in the coffin for the Rays is the fact that they are 1-7 in their last 8 games here and 3-13 in their last 16 vs the Tigers overall. Tigers win again.

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Jeff AlexanderFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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San Diego Padres +1½FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Padres are showing value catching runs at this price. They have won 6 of 7 with Marquis on the mound, and the lone loss came by a single run. Plus, they've won 2 of his last 3 starts versus the Dodgers with the loss coming by just 1 run. The Dodgers have failed to cover the run line in each of Kershaw's last 4 starts against the Padres, losing the last 2 outright. The Padres are 5-2 in their last 7 road games versus the Dodgers. Take them on the run line.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, June 5

Jack JonesFORFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Kansas City Royals -129FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Kansas City Royals have a big edge on the mound tonight over the lowly Minnesota Twins. As a result, I'm going to back the Royals as a small home favorite in this one.
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Jeremy Guthrie has picked up right where he left off last season for the Royals. The right-hander is 5-3 with a 3.84 ERA in 11 starts in 2013, including 3-1 with a 3.03 ERA in four home starts.
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P.J. Walters is no more than a fill-in starter in this league for Minnesota. He has posted a 4.50 ERA through two starts this season. Walters is 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA in one career start against Kansas City, while Guthrie is 5-2 with a 3.57 ERA in eight career starts against Minnesota.
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Minnesota is 7-29 (-20.0 Units) against the money line vs. a starting pitcher who throws more than 6.5 innings per start over the last 2 seasons. Guthrie is 14-2 (+15.0 Units) against the money line when the total is 8 to 8.5 over the last 2 seasons. Bet the Royals Wednesday.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Wednesday, June 5

Bob Balfe

Orioles -150

This price is high, but we are banking on winning the game and this is a spot in which the Astros just cooled off from the best streak they are going to have all year. What they did was amazing considering they have such a low payroll, but they still are a weak baseball team and nothing in this game points in their favor. Garcia is light years better as the starting pitcher and Baltimore should roll. Take the Orioles.

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